One of the most important vrats (fasts) in Hindu religion, Hartalika Teej Vrat is celebrated on the third day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada. According to the Gregorian calendar, it falls in the months of August- September. The 3rd and last day of the Teej festival, this year Hartalika Teej will be celebrated on September 3rd, though the processions and celebrations will begin on September 1st.
The literal meaning of Hartalika is made by joining the words `Harat’ meaning abduction and `Aalika’ meaning (female) friend.
According to Hindu mythology, it was on this day that Goddess Parvati was abducted by her friends to stop her marriage to Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that since Goddess Parvati always wanted Lord Shiva as her husband, she observed this Vrat.
Therefore, devotees believe that, if they keep the Hartalika Teej Vrat, they will be blessed with marital bliss and happiness by the deities.
Hartalika Teej is observed in most parts of the country with equal enthusiasm, though in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, the celebrations are even more grandeur.
In the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, the Hartalika Teej Vrat is known as Gowri Habba. Married women worship Goddess Gowri, to obtain blessings for a happy married life.
On this day, big processions of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva are taken out by devotees. Beautifully dressed idols of Goddess Parvati, escorted by several camels and elephants, make the Teej processions more attractive. The idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshipped with flowers, Bilwa leaves, and incense sticks.
In some parts of the country, magnificent fairs and bazaars are also organized on the occasion of Hartalika Teej.
Hartalika Teej is observed especially by married women with immense enthusiasm and zeal. As a part of the ritual married women on this day return to their parent’s home for the celebration. Women dress up in new clothes, preferably of green color, and wear striking jewelry to celebrate the festival.
Hartalika Teej fast is also observed by married women, for a period of three days for the welfare and long life of their husbands. The main worshipping ritual begins in the afternoon on the day of Hartalika Teej. Women observing the fast get up early and take a dip in the holy waters before they visit the mandir. Having prayed for a blissful marriage, they also touch their husband’s feet after returning home.
Apart from preparing sweets and other delicacies at home, fresh fruits and green vegetables are also offered to Goddess Parvati. A very unique ritual of this festival
is that women exchange beautifully painted coconuts with their female friends and relatives.
After completing all the rituals, the women feast together on jaggery and rice patolis, served on banana leaves, along with mixed vegetables, which are specially cooked in coconut milk and other spices. A special sweet made from rice and coconut milk is also prepared. Women also drink tender coconut water, after offering it to the deity.